The aim of this blog is to share my knowledge and experiences of studying and working in the legal sector, while applying for pupillage.
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Tuesday, 18 August 2015
What Do You Do When Your A Victim Of Hate Crime & The System Repeatedly Fails To Support You?
So you are probably thinking this blog has a theoretical title? Unfortunately, you are WRONG!!!
Campaign of Abuse
Mr Loyan Ali endured fourteen months of racial incidents at his allotment that he used to rent in Harlestone Road. He suffered from incidents of hate crime during the months of April 2014 to November 2014. The campaign of hate crime against MR Ali and his family included multiple incidents of racial abuse and physical threats towards Mr Ali, some of which were in the presence of his wife and children. This also included destruction to his allotment produce and the killing of his poultry which he kept on the allotment. (Who on earth threatens to kill someone’s pets/livestock? )
Failure to Act on Reports
He reported these incidents to both Northamptonshire Police and Northampton Borough Council. (Northampton Borough Council are responsible for managing the allotments with Enterprise.) However, no action has ever been taken against any of the perpetrators of the anti-social behaviour and hate crime towards Mr Ali and his allotment. It is clear that Mr Ali has been unacceptably let down by the 'system' in respect of decisions made by Northamptonshire Police not to take action against his reports. In fact, one Police Officer from Northamptonshire Police carelessly told Mr Ali that the reason that he was experiencing racial harassment was due to 'him reporting incidents'. The same police officer then recklessly advised Mr Ali to cease reporting incidents.
Mr Ali Made Every Effort to Resolve
Mr Ali took every opportunity available to resolve issues using what should have been 'appropriate reporting structures'. He even made formal complaints about the lack of support that he had received as a victim of hate crime. He even contacted Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council (NREC) for support. NREC have worked hard to help Mr Ali and have regularly raised concerns over the way the District Council and Police failed to support him, at local hate crime meetings.
Even when the law failed him, Mr Ali expressed willingness to attend discussions and mediation to resolve the ongoing issues. Nevertheless, both Northamptonshire Police and Northampton Borough Council continued to let him down by cancelling meetings at the last minute and failing to reschedule.
Mr Ali Makes a StandUnfortunately, Mr Ali's experience of racial hatred and the incident that lead to his arrest resulted in him feeling that he was left with no alternative option but to terminate his contract at the allotment on Harlestone Road. Mr Ali ceased using his allotment back in November 2014. This is another example of Mr Ali taking steps to prevent future altercations between himself and other allotment users who were responsible for the hate campaign against Mr Ali, before his conviction in July 2015.
Victim Unfairly Convicted
As you can imagine the failure to support Mr Ali lead to incidents progressing. Then one day Mr Ali felt so threatened that he retaliated spontaneously in response to a threat, in fear that the perpetrators would cause further damage to his property on his allotment and his family. Despite all of his previous complaints never progressing to any action. The moment Mr Ali responded in self-defence, he was arrested and charged under s4 Public Order Act. This is despite the fact that Mr Ali was the real victim and despite the fact that Mr Ali did not physically harm anyone.
Mr Ali's distressing journey did not stop there as unfortunately the Crown Prosecution Service let him down too. The CPS failed to consider adequately the reports that he had previously raised with Northamptonshire Police during April-August 2014.
This has been a long and distressing procedure for Mr Ali which resulted in him recently being convicted in the local Magistrates Court. Subsequently, he was sentenced to a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £350 costs (don't even get me started on new court costs) and £15 victims surcharge on 17 August 2015.
It is difficult to identify any justice in this man being convicted after a counter allegation was made by the hate incident perpetrators when his own reports were unfairly dismissed.
NREC believe that Mr Ali's distressing situation was aggravated by the lack of specialist expertise within Northamptonshire Police since the closure of their Hate Crime Unit which has led to a lack of hate crime specialists within the force.
Mr Ali Reflects on this Distressing Experience
“As a result of my experiences my self-worth and self-esteem has been badly damaged and the trust I had in the justice system has been eroded. I have been unfairly treated by the court, the police and the Borough Council.”(Extracted from NREC website)
So What Should Victims of Hate Crime Do??
I am still unsure how to respond to this question. What do you do when the system that is in place to support and protect you fails to take positive action to support you and keep you mentally and physically safe? Other than logging a formal complaint and seeking 3rd party support you are very vulnerable and limited. Even raising complaints can seem lengthy and unproductive. As you can see Mr Ali pursued both of these options. Nevertheless, the degrading treatment that he faced continued until he felt that he had no other option other than to stand up for himself. I am also concerned about what could have happened to Mr Ali if he had not have made a stand. How far would this victimisation have gone? Would he have woken up in a hospital bed instead of a police cell?
How is it fair or just when a victim loses everything including their hobby/ source of food, good name, and confidence to then also be penalised by a system that failed to act? Even if the local Police Force and Borough Council take steps to prevent future reports spiralling out of control this will not give comfort to Mr Ali.
Are You A Victim Of Hate Crime?
Report incident to the police and any public bodies that may hold responsibility for assisting you.
Speak to a third party for support and guidance to avoid hasty action.
Contact Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council or similar for support and advice.
Avoid taking things into your own hands.
If you feel that you have no other option other than to challenge the perpetrators actions make sure that there are independent witnesses present and try to remain calm and inoffensive.